I have been vegan for roughly 4 years. I have struggled staying vegan at points in my life for sure, and was on and off throughout my whole first year of college. Being vegan can be tricky especially when you are thrown into a different environment (for me college) where you are unfamiliar with what is available to you food wise. Thats the thing about veganism, in order to be successful you have to be aware of all that is available to you, and know what works for you.
I remember when I first became a vegan my sophomore year of high school I was extremely clueless. I was always hungry and unsatisfied because I had no idea what I could eat and how much I should be eating. Thankfully I stayed strong because I believed in the many reasons behind veganism (and also wanted to prove my family wrong and show them I could follow a vegan diet).
Basically what I’m saying here is that it took me a long time to discover all the ins and outs of veganism. If I had known only a few of the things I know now approaching my fifth year of veganism, transitioning from the standard american diet to a vegan one would of been a whole lot easier. Thats why I have decided to share with you a few of the tips I have learned along the way, in hopes of making your journey as a new vegan way easier.
So here is what I’ve learned along the way:
(1) You can eat bread
When I say this I mean that you probably can still eat a lot of the things you are used to eating. When I first became vegan I probably went about a month before I realized I could eat bread. You will be surprised a lot of things that you may not expect to be vegan are! There are so many foods out there that are “accidentally” vegan. A resource I highly recommend checking out is PETA. Their site contains an endless amount of lists of vegan food. One list I particularly recommend taking a look at is their accidentally vegan food list.
(2) Always read labels
One thing that you will need to learn how to do if you are planning on becoming, or just became vegan is how to read labels. This is essential because not everything that is vegan is labeled as vegan. If you are only looking for products labeled as vegan you will miss out on a whole lot of great vegan options. Reading labels is also important for the exact opposite reason. You can’t just go shopping assuming everything is vegan because sometimes their are sneaky ingredients in foods you expect to be vegan. Often when a food contains dairy it will be labeled in bold at the bottom of the ingredient list, but be careful because eggs and honey won’t be listed separately at the bottom. Always read through the ingredient list carefully to watch out for ingredients like gelatin, that may seem to be fine but in reality aren’t vegan.
(3) Keep vegan junk food on hand
My reasoning for this one is pretty simple. Even if one of your motives behind becoming vegan is to be healthier all new vegans (at least from my experience) are going to have non-vegan cravings. Trust me there are going to be times when all you want is a gigantic bowl of ice cream, and you’ll be tempted to cheat. Having vegan junk food available will help prevent you from eating that bowl of ice cream and instead eating a bowl of vegan non-dairy ice cream. Even though neither dairy ice cream or non-dairy ice cream is particularly good for you, it’s always better to eat vegan junk then to cheat on your vegan diet.
(4) Dairy is addictive you will crave it like crazy
This is something I experienced a lot of when first cutting out animal products from my diet. Dairy is naturally very addictive so cutting it out is going to be difficult at first and that’s normal. How I dealt with this was by learning what foods would help satisfy my cravings. I tried different vegan pizzas, mac n’ cheeses, and cheeses. One thing I really ended up liking, and still eat to this day, is Kite Hill cream cheese. It tastes so much like the real thing its crazy, and it’s the only vegan cream cheese I will recommend. Being a person whose favorite food before veganism was bagels and cream cheese, this cream cheese was a life changing discovery.
(5) Be prepared
This last tip is a bit general, but always being prepared is something that’s very important as a vegan. People are going to question your reasons for being vegan, and are going to constantly try to argue with you about your reasoning. Even if you haven’t encountered this yet, trust me it will happen. The best thing you can do is just be prepared to answer the question “why are you vegan?”, and maybe the question “where do you get your protein?”. Even though its not necessarily your job to educate everyone you meet on veganism, it does help to know some information about your diet so when people do ask you can know what to tell them
Besides being prepared to answer questions you also should be prepared to be in situations where vegan food isn’t readily available, or doesn’t seem to be. You can do this by always carrying around a vegan protein bar, or trail mix in your purse or school bag, or buy looking at menus before going out for eat. No one wants to say no to lunch with friends because they can’t eat at the restaurant their friends have chose. Don’t be afraid to call the restaurant about vegan options before you go, often restaurants are happy to help you find something that fits your vegan diet. If all else fails learn how to alter dishes on menus at your favorite restaurants in order to “veganify” them.
Finally I want to finish of this post by just listing few of my favorite vegan items, and recipies. I highly recommend all of these things, and they always find a spot in my fridge or pantry. I have attached links to everything down below so you know what to look for in the grocery store.
- Kite Hill Cream Cheese
- Ben and Jerry’s Vegan Ice Cream (I recommend P.B. & Cookies)
- Annie’s Vegan Shells and Creamy Sauce
- Vegan Alfredo Recipe
- My Favorite Vegan Pancakes
Also be sure to check out my vegan board on Pinterest for many more recipes!
xoxo not the girl next door